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Strong to the Bone: Resistance Training for Perimenopause

Posted on 19 October 2023

Perimenopause is like an awkward dance between youth and maturity. Your hormones go on a wild rollercoaster ride in a second puberty, if you like. But amidst the hot flashes and mood swings, there’s an understated yet critical partner to consider: bone health. Resistance Training for perimenopause is essential for your bone health.

In the world of functional medicine, we’re here to reveal the science behind resistance training – the spirited companion that can help perimenopausal women keep their bones strong while having a little fun.

The Science of Bones and Menopause

Before we dive into why resistance training for perimenopause is your ticket to bone health, let’s talk science. After the many ups and downs of perimenopause, oestrogen levels start to dip like a rollercoaster on its way down after menopause. And guess what? Oestrogen isn’t just a hormonal superstar; it’s also the guardian of your bone health. It helps build bones and regulate the balance between bone formation and bone resorption.

Oestrogen’s Magical Bone-Preserving Act

During your reproductive years, oestrogen keeps bones in tip-top shape by helping to build bones. It regulates old bone tissue being replaced with fresh, dense bone. As oestrogen levels plummet, so bones can weaken and lose density. The result? Bone loss starts to pick up its tempo, and the risk of osteoporosis shimmies to the forefront. 

Resistance Training and Bone Remodelling

Resistance training is like a magical wand for your bones, in fact it’s the primary intervention to help reduce bone loss. When you engage in resistance training – that’s lifting weights or working against resistance – your bones receive an invitation to a bone-remodelling party. Old bone tissue is replaced with fresh, denser bone, making your bones feel stronger and ready to face whatever challenges come their way. 

The good news is that it is never too late to start increasing muscle strength. You can be stronger when you are 70 than when you were 20. The bad news is that it will take you longer to grow that muscle than when you were in your 20’s. 

The Density Dilemma – BMD on the Rise

Bone mineral density (BMD) is like the VIP pass to the bone health party. Studies have shown that resistance training keeps your bones dense and strong, so increasing BMD. 

Note that weight training won’t make you bulky. Yes, your muscles will stop shrinking and becoming weaker, which is what you want – and need. Osteoporosis (meaning holes in bones) plus sarcopenia (meaning loss of muscle as you age) are the main reasons for loss of freedom and functional independence, which often brings forward the need to be in a nursing home. Everything starts somewhere and this, ladies, is where it can begin.

Muscles and Bones: BFFs Forever

Let’s talk synergy. When you’re in the resistance training game, you’re not just building muscles; you’re also fortifying your bones. By pulling on the bones, muscles help to strengthen bones or when they weaken, they facilitate the decrease in bone density. 

Strong muscles offer support and stability to your skeletal system, reducing the chances of accidents and fractures, common concerns for menopausal women. 

Hormone Harmony Through Resistance Training

We know that resistance training can’t replace oestrogen, but it can help balance hormones indirectly. By improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and enhancing your overall metabolic function, it lends a hand in achieving hormone harmony. Think of it as the dance floor where your hormones can groove without tripping over each other.

Personalised Moves for Your Silent Disco

It isn’t about one-size-fits-all solution (when did a jumper ever do that anyway?). It’s about customizing a resistance training program that’s safe and effective individual for your health profile and fitness level. Think of it as a silent disco – you get to dance to your own beat.

Progress with a Dash of Overload

Sometimes your body loves a little challenge. Here it’s called progressive overload. You gradually increase the intensity and complexity of your resistance training exercises. It’s like dancing – you start with a two-step, and as you get more confident, you add some spins and twirls. Before you know it, you’re a resistance training for perimenopause like a superstar.

Bone Feast – Protein

We’ve got to talk about what fuels your bones – nutrition.  Eating sufficient protein is essential. Protein is composed of amino acids, which when eaten are used to build muscles. You can’t build muscle without these essential building blocks. Oestrogen also facilitates muscle building. So as your oestrogen levels diminish tenfold, so your muscle-building ability does the same. 

A well-balanced diet loaded with essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium is also essential.

Stress, the Gate-crasher

There’s always the unwanted gate-crasher. And now in your life it is STRESS. It’s particularly unfortunate when everything else in your life is probably hitting a crescendo too. But that’s why reducing your stress levels at this time of your life is so so so incredibly important. Include meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices daily. Yes daily. Stress increases your cortisol levels, which put your hormones out of sync and will make you feel as though you’ve hit the wall. Sorry – I can’t paint a prettier picture!

The Peri-menopausal Dance – Hormones and Bones

So there you have it, the science of resistance training resistance training for perimenopause and its vital role in bone health. As you don your workout gear and hit the resistance training stage, remember that it’s not just about preventing fractures; it’s about preserving the essence of vitality and health as you navigate the splendid menopausal dance.

Do get some help when you’re starting out – go to your local gym, e.g CrossFit who will have lots of classes and knowledge to get you started. Just two 30-minute sessions a week will show a huge improvement in 12 weeks. Like anything though, consistency is key. Build it up slowly into your routine, using the lightest of weights.

Showing up will be the hardest part – it always is.

resistance training for perimenopause

PS Need More Help With Hormone Balance?

Hormone balance is incredibly complex and are often a result of various issues all mixed together… e.g. digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, stress, a lack of dietary fat and protein, lack of sleep, and environmental toxins. Please don’t expect incorporating magnesium into your diet to fix all of this! 

If you would like balanced hormones, then please get in touch, I would love to help you! I work with many women like you in my clinic so please don’t feel you’re alone. If you’d like better hormone balance, contact me here.

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